The Great Catalog Checklist
At Catalog Design Studios, we’ve found that a final spread-by-spread review by the lead writer and art director is invaluable for kicking the book up a notch. Invariably we find opportunities we missed because we were juggling a million details when we were last working on the pages. Once all those details have been taken care of, we find that stepping back and taking a clean look at the work—not with the eyes of an art director or writer, but with the eyes of your customer—yields enormous dividends.
1. Put your cover to the test. You have a few seconds to make an initial impression with your customer. Does your cover have the most overall impact possible? Are your cover lines working as hard as they can be? Is the emphasis on the right promotions? Would re-ordering them be a better option? Are your cover lines in the best location?
2. Do the “flip test”. Page quickly through the book like a customer would and make sure that the spreads are in a logical order.
3. Check every headline. Are your headlines still working? Sometimes a feature shot gets changed, rendering a headline less effective, or worse, nonsensical. Take this opportunity to make sure they work in perfect synch. Is every headline selling is hard as it should be? Have you avoided puns and unintentional meanings?
4. Dig into the body copy. Make sure that the changes requested didn’t compromise salesmanship or clarity. Remember, “The customer who hesitates is lost.” If you give them one chance to postpone their purchase, they’ll take it.
5. Check your captions and callouts. Are your callouts still pointing to the right features? (They can get inadvertently swapped during redesign.) Do the photos still effectively show the features you are calling out? Are your captions and callouts as clear and concise as they can be?
6. Do the “eye flow” test. Pay attention to how your eyes move over the page. Does your eye stay on the page or does it move off?Can flopping a photo or two on the spread keep your customer on the spread longer and enhance the chances they will buy? A simple change like making the model in the feature shot look into the spread (as opposed to off the page) will draw your customer in more effectively.
7. Check placement and frequency of contact info. Does your phone number and web address appear on every spread?
8. Make “ease of shopping” your mantra. Remove any barriers to purchasing decisions. Be relentless. Every spread should be as easy to shop as possible. Do the colors listed match the order shown in the stack? Are product labels and product names absolutely consistent? Any question raised and not answered is a potential problem.
9. Check cross-references, phone numbers and other key details. There are a lot of moving pieces during production. Products get moved. Old phone numbers are inadvertently picked up. Photos and captions move. With all those flying pieces, there’s a good chance an error was made. Take the time to double check all page references in the book (including the Table of Contents or Index). Call all the phone numbers to be sure they are the ones intended. Check all URLs for the same reason—particularly those for vendors or non-profit companies you may feature in editorial sections. It’s better to take the time now and avoid costly or embarrassing mistakes.